Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The geek rapture

Steve Ranger interviews William Gibson:
Unlike many of your novels, which are set in the future, Spook Country is in the near past. What's different about writing about the past rather than the future?

I'm writing speculative fiction about the year before last [rather than] speculative fiction about the year after next Tuesday which is what I was doing for a while.

I am interested in these relationships of tenses--Gibson's also thinking here not just about the special case of writing speculative fiction about the (in this case recent) past but about that more general problem of what happens when the present catches up with the imagined future of a past speculative fiction....

(Thanks to Brent for the link.)


  1. It's interesting that you put it in terms of tenses. Only a special writer survives the quaintness of 'outdated' speculative fiction/SF, and I suppose it's the very speed of change that's made an alternative past more attractive to writers now. They have more leeway to get it wrong, so to speak.

  2. Of course, writing about an alternative past gives a writer, at least potentially, the chance to ask all sorts of interesting questions about what makes us, us. Gibson raises an interesting point about whether most societal change now is technologically driven. I wish more really fine writers would consider this.